Women Researching Violent Extremism: Gendered and Racialized Experiences

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 18:45
Oral Presentation
Alexia DERBAS, Western Sydney University, Australia
Virginia MAPEDZAHAMA, Western Sydney University, Australia
Researching "radicalization" in a government funded study is a difficult process as the field work tends to reinforce ambivalence towards government practice. The difficulty is further compounded when the researchers are two women: a black woman racialized as black, and an Arab woman racialized as white. The paper is a critical, reflexive reflection on being in the field engaged in "Countering Violent Extremism" (CVE) research in Sydney, Australia. Eighteen youth service providers were interviewed to understand their attitudes and experiences towards "violent extremism" and young people at risk of "radicalizing" to violence. Participants shared traumatic stories of young people impacted by the Australian Federal Government's strict new laws for children seen to be involved in terrorist related activity. They also showed frustration for what they saw to be misplaced funding as they were dealing with other issues impacting young people more profoundly, such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and homelessness. The paper will explore how the two researchers navigated such challenging and often emotional topics. The researchers experienced the interviews differently, with power manifesting differently in different spaces, and so the paper will reflect on how these experiences were highly racialized. This, as well as being impacted by the different ages and career stages of the researchers.